Emotional Journey is The New Brand Differentiator


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photo source (www.happiness.ae)

Customer journey mapping is a significant tool for designing and managing the customer’s experience, it is an effective approach to enable/ take the value-driven decision.

Customer journey is a user-friendly diagram that can visualize the end-to-end customer’s experience, showing the main touchpoints, the moment the service need started, how the service is initiated, how to apply for it, how to process it until receiving the service.

Enriching the customer journey with customers’ overall satisfaction, thoughts, feelings and needs helps to understand the 360-degree of the customer’s experience.

In developing a perfect customer journey, companies should consider the below key elements:
1- Think outside-in, think as a customer and draw the map from the customer’s point of view. Put yourself in the customers shoes
2- For every touchpoint, remember to highlight the gain/pain points and write down customer’s common feedback.
3- Use the bird’s-eye view and consider the touchpoints among all channels.
4- Write down the potential opportunities collected from both qualitative and quantitative research with customers.
5- Think of the To-Be customer journey (future customer experience), which should be the ideal case from customer perspective.

The customer journey is a mixture of art and science; a good start to learn about your customers and the traditional way to increase your market share. However, is it enough?

Nowadays, we clearly see how the pace of change has accelerated in a digital world enabled by disruptive emerging technology, which raises the customers’ expectations and creates more difficult for companies to reach customers’ satisfaction. To get and win more, you need to dig deeper and understand your customer more.

No customer walks out of a service center saying “my overall experience today is great, it is 8.6 out of 10”. Customers do not accumulate the level of satisfaction of each physical touchpoint throughout the experience using a mathematical algorithm for measuring happiness.

Instead, customer can perfectly memorize what is relevant to customer’s subjective preference, what is linked to the brand promise and what is really considered exceeding customer expectations.

Accordingly, customer experience becomes less physical touchpoints driven about the clicks and connections with customer’s emotions, happiness and well-being. For instance, rather than asking about the fact that your organization has a mobile application, business owners are focusing on the application’s look, and feel, and how it is perceived and affected emotionally by the customer.

Therefore, emotional journey is now the new trend, when companies bond with customers’ emotions, the payoff is worth it. Coca-Cola is one example of that successfully uses an emotional branding strategy, building brand that appeals directly to emotional state of the customer.

‘’Share a Coke – Share a feeling’’ is the creative way that puts emotions on cans and bottles so people can share their feelings with friends. You would have to squeeze the sides of the soda dispenser in a specific way to make a free Coke come out from the machine in Hug me campaign (Forbes 2016).

photo source (book: Uncommon Services)

Building a successful emotional customer experience requires five main points to consider:
1- Educate employees and leadership about the importance of the emotional element of the customer experience.
2- Identify and quantify the emotional situation using the right measurements. The traditional way of asking users/ customers how satisfied are you with the product or the service offered today is not enough. Building multidimensional framework consisting of behavioral analytics (what people do), behavioral psychology (what people don’t say) plus social listening (what people say) could be a good start to measure and quantify the emotional part of the journey.

Starbucks is the key brand that thinks and decides using the emotional journey. They are offering spectacular service however, ‘Price’ is the most severe pain point out of the total 26 sub-processes and attributes. For the case of Starbucks and considering Starbucks brand promise, price is rarely a concern. The below emotional journey is the outcome of a research carried out in North America through the global Starbucks research. It took 715 respondents feedback.

Emotion Curve of the Starbucks In-Store Experience
Source: Stop Practicing Fake CX

3- Focus on the potential emotional opportunities related to your brand promise: IKEA’s brand promise is (to provide well-designed quality products at an affordable price), so the quality and the price are the opportunities for Ikea’s customers.
4- Design and test the ideal emotional journey by using fast prototyping and design thinking techniques.
5- Spread the emotional culture by communicating emotional stories and best practices with your employees.
6- Develop Customer Personas: Segmenting customers based on the demographic information is always the traditional way of customer segmentation, however relating customer emotions and behaviors, organizations are shifting to segmenting their customer based on the behaviors (customer personas).

Personas are fictional characters, where organizations are segmenting customers based on their needs, experiences, behaviors and goals. Accordingly, designing the products and services will be easier and more relevant to the customer’s needs and expectations.

The overall customer experience is what we remember. In order to create personal and memorable experiences that customers are willing to pay for, it’s worth the effort to put customer emotion back in the middle of the customer experience.

Ahmed Aly
Prime Minister's Office UAE
Ahmed is a a Customer Experience Expert with long history of delivering a high standard of CX in UAE (16+ years of experience). He is currently offering his knowledge to the Prime Minister's Office of UAE in the role of Senior Consultant. Ahmed has completed his PhD in IBS-UTM (International Business School - Universiti Teknologi Malaysia) and holds MBA degree from the University of Atlanta in USA and Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Engineering from Cairo University of Egypt. His PhD thesis is Data Driven Customer Experience and the Roadmap to deliver Happiness.


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